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People Not Being Honest


You're an experienced project manager for a large organization, having seen several successful and failed projects over the years. You've learned the hard way that hidden agendas can harm a project's success and the importance of ensuring aligned hopes and expectations among all team members.



As the project team begins to work on a new project, you identify several liaisons who quietly appear to have their own motives and agendas. These liaisons often try to bolster their position within their division or geography, acting like know-it-alls and making double promises. The outcome of these false promises becomes evident once their declarations do not align with those of the core team. This misalignment could ultimately lead to modifications or revisions to the initial plan that satisfies the division leadership's expectations rather than what was initially agreed upon.



The presence of hidden agendas within the liaisons ultimately creates tension within the project, resulting in the project team's members being forced into decisions that could compromise the project's success. In some cases, this could lead to resentment and disinterest from other parties not privy to the situation. 

Additionally, the presence of internal administrative team representatives that behave similarly to Liaisons could present a layer of hidden complexity where they leverage blame on external systems and processes rather than addressing underlying organizational shortfalls and inefficiencies.


Lessons Learned:

Be Alert; Be ready to identify hidden agendas in your project's liaisons. Look out for members who act independently of the team's goals and those attempting to boost their status within the organization.

Ensure Clear Communication; Establish clear expectations and communicate frequently amongst the team and its members. Ensure that the project team leadership, system Administrators, division heads, and internal administrative team representatives clearly understand each task and its expected outcome.

Assure Alignment; Ensure everyone is aligned towards the same goals and resist any tendencies to overpromise or under-deliver.


What Should Have Been Done Differently?

To avoid project setbacks related to hidden agendas, it is essential to:

Meet With Division Leaders Yourself; Establish an open line of communication. If you suspect something is "odd," call the divisional leader yourself, unannounced, and have an impromptu chat. Dig a little deeper to flesh out any peculiarities. 


Establish Clear Guidelines And Procedures; Establishing clear guidelines and procedures creates a level playing field for all team members of projects. This process ensures that every part of a project is documented, discussed, presented transparently, and agreed upon, minimizing the risk of hidden agendas.

Work To Identify Fault Lines: Encourage the people involved in projects to be aware of hidden agendas and to work promptly to identify and address them. When fault lines are identified early, the organization can correct each missed target, causing teams to work towards meeting each target with an understanding of the project's overall health.

Prioritize Open Communication: Maintain open and honest communication among team members. Promote feedback, individual goals, objectives, and suggestions from all parties to ensure that concerns are addressed, and solutions are developed collaboratively.


Hidden agendas within teams can challenge any project's long-term goals enormously. The organization can create a quality control system at the onset to mitigate this risk and maintain transparency for all aspects of the working project. Encouraging a culture of openness and honesty and establishing clear guidelines and procedures will minimize risks and promote accountability across all parties.




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